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close this bookThe Courier N 138 - March - April 1993 Dossier: Africa's New Democracies - Country Reports : Jamaica - Zambia (EC Courier, 1993, 96 p.)
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The courier’s mailbag

Why has agricultural development not worked in Africa?

Thank you for sending The Courier regularly. It always provides a lot of useful information on agriculture in the developing countries-a subject I am studying at a faculty of agriculture in the Netherlands-as well as about ACP-EC relations and even the situation in my own country of Senegal, and I derive pleasure and interest from it.

I am writing to you about two questions which have arisen in my mind from reading issue No 136 (November-December 1992).

First, on page 31, you say that the idea behind the policies pursued by Senegal and other African countries was to disprove the generally accepted 'natural process' of economic development, namely that industrialisation cannot be achieved without first developing a strong agricultural sector.

In the Treaty of Rome, the EC countries pointed to the need to ensure the development of overseas countries and a lot of European funds have been spent on this since then. But it would seem that the African countries always use the money to develop areas other than the farm sector which should be their first priority.

Did the European Community countries-who know themselves how important it is to start by developing agriculture-always give the right advice before the 6th EDF in 1990? And if the developing countries were properly informed, or if they already knew it themselves as I imagine they did, why did they persist for so long in turning a blind eye to the basic inadequacy of their industrialisation policy?

My second short point relates to an inconsistency in the article on Senegal by that country's Minister of Economic Affairs, Finance and Planning. We are told that CFAF 33 billion has been channelled into the Podor Region but the five items subsequently listed do not add up to that amount.

Potin Dieme-Wageningen (Netherlands)

European integration... and African disintegration

I am a regular reader of your magazine and enjoy the dexterity you show in compiling information on Africa which is both rich and educational. I have also been following with interest the stages through which the European Community has passed from the Treaty of Rome in 1957 up to the present debate on the Maastricht Treaty which was due for ratification by January 1, 1993.

Europe is to become an 'ever closer union' in which 'decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen in accordance with the principle of subsidiarily'. But what is the agenda for the countries of Africa? Who decides the level of involvement of the people and who sets out the priorities for development?

I have calculated, with a sense of dismay, the huge sums of money in the form of grants and loans that have been transferred to African countries from Europe since Lom came into force. I seriously wonder whether the projects involved were those which the Africans themselves most needed.

While European integration is taking place on one side of the Mediterranean Sea, African disintegration is being encouraged on the other. There may even be a United States of Europe by 1999, but by then the African may not even be able to trade with his nearest neighbour for lack of roads and other infrastructure.

What Africa needs above all, to facilitate trade and prevent this disintegration, is all-season roads, both within countries and linking with neighbouring countries.

F.A. Akam-Yaounde (Cameroun)